An incarnational event.

Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary. -Madeleine L’Engle

On the second Sunday of Advent, a missionary who has been visiting our church preached a bit on creativity. He claimed not to be a very creative person artistically, but he put forth the idea that using your gifts to serve God was being creative enough. This was actually an idea I’d been pondering for a while, since I don’t consider myself very creative, either. I have been wondering if some of the ways that we talk about art can’t also apply to, say, spreadsheets and charts. Book reviews. Fixing broken computers. These are areas where I am much more comfortable (I’m not saying I can fix REALLY broken computers, but I am okay at troubleshooting. Just for the record), but they aren’t things that people are going to hang on their wall or strum their guitars along with. And, in general, I feel pretty sad/insecure about my lack of creativity, because I feel like I am surrounded by incredibly talented people, but that my own brain is kind of broken when it comes to creativity. Also, they are taller than I am.

But I think that what Madeleine L’Engle is saying here actually does apply to left-brained things like charts and spreadsheets. If those are my gifts, if I can make a mean PowerPoint presentation or write a good book review, then I should obediently bear that to completion. Knowing your strengths and playing to them, doing those things well, and being open to challenges in your own life . . . I think that takes the same humility and courage that Mary had. Of course it doesn’t take me as much courage to set up a computer as it took Mary to bear the Son of God, but doing my best in the areas where I am gifted and in those where I am challenged does take that same kind of obedience.

So whether serving my gifts leads me to a symphony or an excellent lesson plan, Mary can still be an inspiration, teaching us about obedience both artistic and practical. Her obedience changed the world as we know it, but if I use my mind and my gifts to turn someone’s day around, then I have done what was required, which is (or should be) incarnational enough for me.

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